How to Save a Failing Relationship

Michelle Overman LMFT
Updated on December 30, 2020

If you’ve been involved in romantic relationships that have come to an end, you are likely familiar with that feeling you get when you realize things are going south. Maybe you and your partner spent time trying to fix the relationship to no avail. It’s difficult and even painful to watch your relationship struggle and move towards failure.

Saving a Failing Relationship

Relationships end for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons might require more effort and help to overcome like in cases where infidelity is involved. Even in scenarios where the relationship seems “doomed to fail,” there is still hope. Depending on the issues, there are several steps you and your partner can take that could potentially salvage a failing relationship:

Identify the Issues

In order to know how to change things, you have to know what the problems are first. It may be something as simple as a lack of communication, or as complex as a loss of trust. Understanding the real issues can steer you in the right direction towards improving a hurting relationship.

Look Inward First

When understanding the issues, it may be easy and tempting to look at all the ways your partner is part of the problem. They are part of the problem, but it still takes two to tango. You can only control yourself, so it’s helpful to look at yourself first. Talk to your partner and spend time reflecting on the ways you could be better and help your relationship. This is easier said then done, and it can be maddening to hear your partner listing off your flaws while ignoring their own. But if this is done with an open mind, it can actually help you see things from their perspective without letting the unproductive “blame game” get in the way.

Gain Perspective

Sometimes relationships struggle because you are focusing too much on things that do not matter that much. Part of the issue with that might come from a desire for control. For example, sometimes people tend to focus too much on how someone dresses, who their friends are, and the way they spend their free time. It is important to focus on what matters and loosen up, giving up that need for control.

Cut the Drama

Relationships begin to fail when there is a lot of drama. That type of toxicity can be a relationship killer. Do not play games and put your partner through tests. Do not “make them pay” when they hurt you or wrong you. It is not about winning an argument or being right. When it becomes about winning or losing, both people will lose because both will be hurt. Immaturity in a relationship will ultimately lead to its demise.

Embrace Forgiveness

If the relationship is failing because there is hurt from the past, it is critical to find a way to move forward. Recognize what you are still holding onto and forgive your partner. Reflect on the ways you have been hurtful and humble yourself to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness can breathe new life in the relationship.

Work to Meet Each Other’s Needs and Adjust Expectations

Do not forget to consider the other person’s needs and feelings. Make them a priority and work towards helping them feel loved and cared for. At the same time, it’s important understand your expectations when it comes to your needs. Those expectations could be unreasonable or unrealistic and adjusting them can help.

Find the Balance Between Independence and Togetherness

Spending too much or too little time together can cause problems. You might feel suffocated or lonely. Either way, those feelings can hurt the relationship. Each relationship has to find their own balance between being independent and together.

Don’t Lose Hope

If both you and your partner feel that what you happy is special and worth fighting for, you actually have chance of saving your relationship. Love, strong chemistry and shared values with a partner are not things to take for granted. A good couples counselor can certainly help, but even if you opt for work things out on your own, know that no relationship is perfect. Over time, there will be bumps in the road, and even when things are going well, you need to work at improving it all the time.

Michelle Overman LMFT

Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master's in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 7 years.

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